And other news from the Beacon City Council
Beacon last week was awarded silver certification in the Climate Smart Communities program, the state’s effort to push municipalities to adopt long-term strategies to mitigate global warming.
It is only the second city in New York state to achieve the designation.
The villages of Croton-on-Hudson and Hastings-on-Hudson also reached silver status in the program, which is administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Ten other communities were awarded bronze certification; Beacon earned bronze in March.
Dutchess County is at the bronze level. Putnam County (enrolled in 2019), Philipstown (2017) and Nelsonville (2018) are also participating in the program.
Beacon made the jump in part because of its adoption in April of the NYStretch Energy Code. The code, which applies to new construction and renovation projects, is designed to change incrementally, so that its standards stay one “cycle” ahead of the state’s standard energy conservation construction code.
The state Energy Research and Development Authority said that in 2020 the stretch code should provide participating municipalities with energy savings of around 11 percent.
Beacon was the second municipality in the state, after New York City, to adopt it.
The city was also recognized for its continued use of the solar farm at the former municipal landfill site, which offsets nearly all electricity used in city-owned buildings, and for residents’ significant participation in a community choice aggregation green energy program.
Launched last year, the program, called Hudson Valley Community Power, is a coalition of six municipalities, also including Cold Spring and Philipstown, that purchases renewable energy at bulk rates.
Residents and businesses in the municipalities were enrolled automatically but given the opportunity to opt out. About 70 percent of Beacon residents stayed in the program and chose the all-renewable energy option. (A mix of renewable and fossil fuel-sourced energy is also available.)
The City Council on Monday (Oct. 5) is expected to approve a new, 10-year agreement for Beacon to buy water from the Village of Fishkill.
The contract allows the city to buy up to 1.2 million gallons per day, and once the village completes a water-well capital improvement project, it allows for 1.5 million gallons each day.
The cost, $2.39 per 1,000 gallons, is good for five years, after which it will be reviewed for the remaining five years, City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero told the council during a Sept. 28 workshop.
The city does not need Fishkill’s water every day of the year, noted Ed Balicki, Beacon’s water and wastewater superintendent. During the winter and spring months the city typically provides all of its own water through its reservoir and well system, but the supplemental amount purchased from the village strengthens its ability to withstand drought in the summer, he said.
Police chief search
The committee overseeing the search for a new Beacon police chief has nearly finalized a brochure that will be used to solicit candidates for the position, which was vacated when Kevin Junjulas retired in July. It will include the civil service job description, plus language on desired skills and attributes crafted for Beacon and based on community surveys that residents filled out over the last two months.
From there, Public Sector Search & Consulting, the firm leading the search, has said it hopes to have six to eight candidates available for interviews in November. That pool would be reduced to three or four for a second round of interviews, including with the mayor.
A public “meet the candidates” event for finalists, either in-person or virtually, could be organized, as well, the city said.
The council next week will consider whether to ask the state Legislature to restore a “home-rule” provision that would allow Beacon to sell its excess sewer capacity to individuals or corporations.
If the council moves forward, it would need to adopt legislation reversing a 1993 decision that mistakenly removed the provision, City Attorney Nick Ward-Willis told council members on Sept. 28. Beacon’s request would then have to be introduced by a state senator or Assembly member for legislative approval.
A commercial property owner on Route 52 has asked to connect to the city’s system, which has capacity, Ward-Willis said, and if approved, the connection would generate revenue for the city.
“There’s plenty of existing capacity in the sewage plant itself,” he said. “When we talk about capacity [in this case], we mean within the individual lines, due to the age of the system or perhaps being undersized.”
An independent review has confirmed that the lines in question have capacity, Ward-Will explained, “but we can’t bring it to you or have any more discussions because the law says we can’t. So we need to correct that first.”